My parents have since passed, my mother in 1995 and my father in 2008. I am an island boy at heart with island values, raised on the simple things… love, family, Jesus, and knowing definitively what is right and what is wrong.
However I have been molded by and through the big city urban lifestyle; this joint life journey has proved to be invaluable in so many ways. My parents were more or less illiterate, no book reading before bed time for me, but they put me through school; several in fact, in addition to Sunday school, you see in the early years, me, my closest sister in terms of age, and my parents would have to share a single room, across four properties.
Somewhere along the line, my parents managed to engage with local authorities and at last I had my room at the age of 9 in a three bed abode. I had one last family move at the age of 10, where this stay lasted for 13 years.
These moves helped my social skills, because I had to adapt to new people, and make new friends regularly during those incredibly important formative years.
As a black boy growing up in the UK, my friends in those early years were mainly white, I never had any real issues with race, in fact I loved my childhood, loved my friends, and again looking back, these social interactions has proved to be invaluable to me as an adult.
On one side of my family via my mother, I have a Portuguese heritage, and of course there must be some African heritage too, because my island was one of many ports of call for the slave ships. It is a heritage dear reader that I am deeply proud of.
I was always surrounded by music. My mother and my father were always singing in our home. I also had an instinct and talent for performing… was often chosen to act, sing and dance during my school years, and was a capable sportsman.
These attributes led me to the world of Martial Arts, I was always tempted to becoming a boxer, and I must say, if I had, I am convinced I would have made it to the top, but my looks may have suffered, though my bank balance would have been healthy, I also became a Principal Dancer, small-scale acting, and mucho singing in a long-established vocal quartet, and solo as a Jazz/crooner singer across the open seas and on dry land at select venues like London’s Royal Albert Hall and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines among them.
This performing phase was and remains the best years of my life (so far), not just because I loved what I was doing and getting paid for it, but I travelled far and wide, soaked up different cultures, social practices, languages, for the most part, warm to hot sunshine and developed even more attuned people skills.
I eventually got married (it seems to happen to us all) and I became a father, a father of girls. Now I draw no distinction between having girls as opposed to boys, but it seems to me that I have been surrounded by women my entire life. I love my girls to bits. I have made mistakes, let them down, did not make them always my number 1 priority, there are many reasons for that, but they know I love them deeply; it is a bond like no other and it draws intense emotion just recalling how I feel about them now. LOVE is a common expression between us. We still have some fine experiences to share going forward, so no regrets, just acknowledgement of what was and what can be.
If I had not become a father, I can only imagine where my performing career may have led…
One of my qualities is I don’t like starting something and not seeing it through. This goes for relationships, projects, anything where there’s a goal or mission to be completed… even vacuuming, or ironing is taken on with this precision, no retreat no surrender mindset… it is both a virtue, but also a weakness.
You see when I agree with someone, anyone that I will do something and they commit to the same, I will always find a way to making it happen. I like to think (correction, I know) that I am reliable, and not just in arriving at an agreed location on time, every time. So trust plays a big part in that ‘John, you had better not say you’re going to do this, and then when the going gets tough, you look to bail out’ (this is not me reader); I am driven, so the only time I have ever stopped creating and realising, is when I have formed a partnership with someone who does not share my integrity or commitment.
It rarely happens, but when it does, it lowers my faith in human kind. Why? Because I like to believe when someone says this or that, I choose to believe that they mean it. So I guess with the me first mentality so readily available in the 21st century, I guess I have some naivety; it is a default quality learned through those formative years, because back then, where the simple things occupied our minds and gave us such joy, trust was never in question for me – it is different now, but I must say, only the rare few do not keep their word, it is very rare in fact – so I have been pretty lucky in truth.
I have rekindled my faith in prayer, and it is making a real difference. Each week I will take a two-mile or so walk to a local church; not during a service, but just to enter, kneel and pray for those that matter and for those that do not – and the usual Peace and Love for all. I also make some special requests, seek forgiveness always, and leave the church for the open streets feeling wholly refreshed.
Recently I have experienced some stuff that in every sense of the word, is unjustified. I could of course choose to react and let myself down, my girls and 2-year-old grandson down, but moreover the values that have so lovingly been bestowed upon me by my mother and father, would be ripped to shreds. I won’t let that happen under any circumstances. I have a brand, a reputation that I am proud of and acquired through everything that I do and have done, and I can honestly say it represents Good.
This Blog is one fine thread of many of who I am – so no, reaction is not good and not my way, it is laced with emotion and by default, this is prone to unpredictability. I choose to respond… I respond with silence, self-discipline, dignity and a determined focus on what I need to do; and I am attracting the ‘right people’ that have seemingly been sent to me to aid my resilience and help me to move forward. I also believe in Karma.
I am in great shape health-wise, I feel like I am 25, but of course the flesh is at times a little weak, so there are experiences awaiting me that will shape who I am further. I am already meeting a broad range of people (mostly women) and enjoying interactions that are on a different level to what has gone before, and they are demonstrating that they are close to the page or on the same page that I am.
As I have moved to the head of the family, my girls and my G’son are now firmly my priority in terms of planning for the future. To do this, I have several targets in my view finder, and as I have said earlier, I am driven, so should anyone wish to throw a grenade or three in my way, two words, don’t bother.